Publications by Faculty & Alumni

Bernasek, Lisa Marie. “Representation and the Republic: North African Art and Material Culture in Paris.” Anthropology and MES, 2008.Abstract
North African art and material culture -- textiles, pottery, jewelry and other objects -- have been exhibited and sold in France since the nineteenth century. Today these objects are central to both state-run museum projects and to projects of self-representation carried out by people of North African origin within France. The dissertation draws on eighteen months of field research in Paris, bringing together both archival and ethnographic research to explore the symbolic production of North African objects as they circulate through different contexts, both historically and today. The first two chapters examine the historical presence of the arts of North Africa in France, starting with the nineteenth and early twentieth century Universal and Colonial Exhibitions and including colonial-era efforts to standardize and commodify Moroccan artisanal production for sale in France. The second chapter analyzes collection practices at France's main ethnographic museum, the Musee de l'Homme, with a particular focus on the 1934 Exposition du Sahara. Chapters three to five explore the circulation of North African art and material culture in Paris today. An analysis of the reconceptualization of colonial-era collections from North Africa at the new Musee du Quai Branly is followed by an examination of the work of Berber cultural associations, where similar objects are exhibited, discussed, and used. The final chapter explores sites where North African objects are sold in Paris today, with a particular focus on distributors who conceptualize their work in terms of cultural exchange. Throughout the dissertation there is a special attention to the ways in which North African cultural objects circulate ambiguously through the categories of art, artifact, commodity, and 'diasporic object.' This term draws attention to uses of material culture that are oriented both toward the creation a specific ethnic identity and to creating a space for that identity within contemporary France, in response to current debates over republicanism and the place of minority communities. By exploring the ways in which North African art and material culture are given new meanings in the transnational context, the dissertation reveals how cultural objects are implicated in arguments about the politics of representation and contemporary national identities. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by addressing your request to ProQuest, 789 E. Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1346. Telephone 1-800-521-3042; e-mail:
Goshgarian, Rachel. “Beyond the Social and the Spiritual: Redefining the Urban Confraternities of Late Medieval Anatolia.” History and MES, 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This dissertation is the first comprehensive study of the phenomenon of the urban confraternity in 13th and 14 th-century Anatolia. Urban confraternities in late medieval Anatolia played a range of roles in cities like Ankara, Erzincan, Konya and Sivas. The important political and social void filled specifically by akhī organizations in 13th and 14th-century Anatolia can only be understood within the context of the importance of urban centers during this time period of political instability and attempts at reform, launched by both Christian and Islamic religious institutions.

Despite the fact that these associations of men living in urban centers in late medieval Anatolia have been addressed in scholarship, a real understanding of what functions the organizations performed, how they were organized, their relationship with cities and with various contemporary religious and political authorities has not been established. This is due both to the consistently changing nature of the brotherhoods and also to the ability of the concept of futuwwa (Arab., qualities of youth) to transform itself depending on the social and political reality within which it existed. This dissertation presents a detailed reconstruction of the basis of the moral code of futuwwa as it changed over time; it is also a study of the way in which that code was articulated in Anatolia (in Arabic, Armenian, Persian and Turkish). This dissertation attempts to reconsider one aspect of the history of 13th and 14th-century Anatolia from the perspective of regional urban history rather than a standard rule-oriented (i.e., Seljuk or Cilician) viewpoint. The goal in doing so is to present a more complete picture of the time. This dissertation shows that all over Anatolia in the 13th and 14th centuries urban associations of men existed playing similar roles and interacting with authorities (whether they were Christian or Muslim, Armenian or Turkish) in similar ways. Re-assessing the history of the region from this new perspective allows us to better understand the social realities of the age.

Durak, Koray. “Commerce and Networks of Exchange between the Byzantine Empire and the Islamic Near East from the Early Ninth Century to the Arrival of the Crusaders.” History and MES, 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

There is no modern work devoted to trade relations between the Byzantines and Near Easterners in the central Middle Ages, with the exception of David Jacoby's articles investigating specifically the trade relations between Byzantium and Fatimid Egypt from the tenth to the twelfth centuries. The purpose of the present research is to fill in this gap in scholarship. The movement of commodities, the merchants who traded them, and the routes that these merchants used to travel between the Islamic Near East and the Byzantine Empire in the ninth, tenth and eleventh centuries are the focus of this dissertation.

In order to address these issues, we employ a tripartite approach: making full use of the sources, such as Arabic geographies and Byzantine saints' lives, which have previously been only partially studied; consulting other written sources that have not been used at all, such as medicinal writing in Arabic and Greek and belles-lettres works in Arabic; and investigating the relationship of objects that moved via non-economic means, such as diplomatic gifts and booty, to commodities. Based on our findings, we present observations concerning the nature of Byzantine-Islamic trade, the role of the Byzantine provinces in long-distance trade, and the role of Byzantium in the trade between northern Europe and the Islamic Near East.

Our findings show that in the ninth and early tenth centuries, the Byzantine Empire was an exporter of silk and expensive objects to the Islamic markets; it imported luxury objects in return; and the merchants from Islamic lands did not penetrate the Byzantine provinces. By the eleventh century, the Byzantine Empire exported textiles of different types as well as vessels, utensils, and foodstuffs; and merchants from Islamic lands were present in Byzantine provinces such as western Asia Minor and Bithynia. The turning point seems to have been sometime in the mid- or late tenth century. We also observe that the gift exchanges and looting (noneconomic exchanges), which took place between Byzantium and the Islamic Near East, were economic phenomena: gifts were used as promotional items to increase demand of the item in question, and looted items were sold back to the looted party for profit.

Jaidah, Mazen. “Explaining Multi-generation Family Business Success in the Gulf States.” History and MES, 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This dissertation examines the success and survival of third-generation family firms in the Gulf States. A framework derived from a comprehensive review of the family business literature identified eleven factors necessary to the long-term survival of family firms. This framework was expanded to include five factors drawn from an analysis of the Gulf business history as it evolved from the late nineteenth century and as it responded to the oil economy from the mid-twentieth century forward.

To explore this topic thoroughly, this research developed four case studies, through personal interviews, public and private records, and archival materials. Three of the family firms, Jaidah, Zamil, and Sultan (W. J. Towell), survived to the third generation while one firm, Darwish, was divided among its three sibling founders. The framework was applied to each of the four cases to ascertain the extent to which factors affected the continuity of the firms studied.

This research found that the relevancy of the family business literature factors was often shaped by local traditions. Analyzing these firms from this dual vantage identified three additional factors—creation of venues, transferring ownership to companies, and exit funds—that can facilitate in overcoming the complexities manifested as family firms progress to later stages.

Jamal, Zahra. “Work No Words: Voluntarism, Subjectivity, and Moral Economies of Exchange Among Khoja Ismaili Muslims.” Anthropology and MES, 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Voluntarism in the multi-ethnic, transnational Shia Imami Nizari Ismaili Muslim community provides a window into the complex interactions of religious ethics, the subject, and the state. While most studies argue that voluntarism is a distinctly American phenomenon linked to citizenship, most Ismailis do not see it as necessarily connected to the nation-state and see no conflict between faith and citizenship. For them, service is a 1400 year tradition entailing the balance between the spiritual and material aspects of life. This dissertation is about one Nizari Ismaili diasporic group called Khoja Ismailis, originally a trading caste from western India that converted from Hinduism to Ismailism around the 11th century. It explores how Khoja Ismailis in Houston, Texas, view and practice seva, or voluntarism, as part of a mediated Islamic moral economy as well as a civic economy, thus binding them with Imam, state, and society. Complicating these moral economies are a hierarchy of service linked to knowledge, class, and symbolic proximity to the Imam, and a hierarchy of gender linked to culturally-based patriarchal logics. Voluntarism reinforces a historical and transnational pan-Ismaili identity, and it becomes a mode through which pious and civic subjectivities are produced. The Ismaili community's institutional structures, transnational character, and authority of the Imam shape their voluntarism. This dissertation contributes to literature on philanthropy and voluntarism, moral economies, subjectivity, and native anthropology. It draws on participant-observation, formal and informal interviews, and archival work conducted in Houston, Washington D.C., and New York, United States; Vancouver, Canada; Karachi, Pakistan; Mumbai, Chennai, and Bhuj, India; and Khorog, Tajikistan from 2003–2005.

Karakaya-Stump, Ayfer. “Subjects of the Sultan, Disciples of the Shah: Formation and Transformation of the Kizilbash/Alevi Communities in Ottoman Anatolia.” History and MES, 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This dissertation deals with the history of the Alevi communities historically known as the Kizilbash in Ottoman Anatolia. Scholars have typically treated Alevism as an undifferentiated strain within the hazy category of "heterodox folk Islam" and mostly in terms of the role these communities played in the sixteenth-century Ottoman-Safavid conflict. There has thus been little effort to explore Alevi history in its own right. This dissertation proposes to fill this gap by examining the development of the Alevis' socio-religious organization, which is centered around a number of charismatic family lines called ocaks. Drawing upon a group of newly available documents and manuscripts emanating from within the Alevi milieu itself, this dissertation traces the origins of the ocak system to the cosmopolitan Sufi milieu of late medieval Anatolia and accounts for the system's evolution up to the nineteenth century.

Chapter one reveals the historical affinity of a number of prominent Alevi ocaks in eastern Anatolia with the Waf'i order and shows how from the second half of the fifteenth century onwards the various branches of the Wafa'iyya came to merge with the Safavid-led Kizilbash movement, gradually evolving into distinct components of the Alevi ocak system. Chapters two and three deal with the trajectory of the Alevi-Bektashi symbiosis. Highlighting Alevis' historical ties to the Abdal/Bektashi convent in Karbala, these chapters propose looking beyond the central Bektashi convent in Kirşehir for a fuller grasp of the issue. Chapter four, devoted to Alevi-Safavid relations, argues that the Alevis conceived of their bond with the Safavids primarily in Sufi terms and that they continued in their spiritual attachment to the shahs even after the revolutionary phase of the Kizilbash movement. Relations between the shahs and their Anatolian followers were maintained through the mediation of the Abdal/Bektashi convent in Karbala. Until the late seventeenth century, the Safavids also continued to bestow hilafetnames on members of Alevi ocaks and to dispatch religious treatises to Anatolia. The Safavid memory among the Alevis began to fade away following the demise of the dynasty around the mid-eighteenth century and the subsequent increase in influence of the Çelebi Bektashis among them.

Trepanier, Nicolas. “Food as a Window Into Daily Life in Fourteenth Century Central Anatolia.” History and MES, 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This dissertation seeks to reconstruct the texture of daily life and, through this, worldviews in fourteenth century Central Anatolia. It uses the various parts that food plays in the human experience both as a sampling mechanism and as a way to organize its discussion of ordinary lives in four main thematic areas, each one covered in a separate chapter. The resulting dissertation constitutes one of the first broad-ranging social histories of the final phase in this region's transition between the (Christian-ruled) Byzantine and (Muslim-Ruled) Ottoman period.

Chapter One is entirely devoted to the source material (hagiographies, chronicles and other narrative sources) and to its analysis in the context of an under-documented period. It also offers a new look at waqfiyya s (Islamic endowment deeds), a type of document whose relevance for rural and agricultural history has largely been disregarded. Chapter Two covers food production (gardens, cereal farming and animal husbandry) as the professional activity of the majority of the population, as well as life in the countryside and the relationship that people entertained with the land. Chapter Three concentrates on food exchanges, exploring the networks of interaction and information that developed with trade, as well as the various food-related points of contact between the rulers and the ruled (taxes, army logistics, plunder, etc.). Chapter Four, the most substantial in this dissertation, uses the meal as a central concept to discuss a large number of issues pertaining to food consumption, from social interactions to cooking vessels and from hospitality to the social connotations of given food items. Finally, Chapter Five investigates food as it interacts with religion, both by looking at festivals and rituals that involve food as a sample of religious practices, and by studying the religious associations of particular foodstuffs.

The conclusion presents fourteenth century Central Anatolian society as one deeply marked by social stratification yet in which even ordinary people enjoyed a significant measure of agency and awareness of the world beyond their immediate surroundings. In a broader perspective, it also uses a comparison with literary fiction to determine in what respects and to what extent an understanding of late mediaeval worldviews is at all possible.

Wittmann, Richard. “Before Qadi and Grand Vizier: Intra-Communal Dispute Resolution and Legal Transactions Among Christians and Jews in the Plural Society of Seventeenth Century Istanbul.” History and MES, 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This dissertation studies the use of legal institutions provided by the Islamic state in the resolution of intracommunal disputes and in the registration of legal transactions among Christians and Jews in late seventeenth century Istanbul. While being the capital city of an Islamic Empire, Ottoman Istanbul in the 1680s and 90s was home to roughly 250,000 Christians and Jews who shared the city with an equal number of Muslims. Even though Islamic law allowed Christians and Jews as dhimmis to resolve most intracommunal legal disputes before an autonomous legal tribunal operated by their respective religious community, many dhimmis forfeited this privilege and preferred to resort instead to legal institutions operated by the Islamic state.

This study examines the voluntary use by dhimmis of three forms of dispute resolution provided by the Islamic state. In addition to the use of the ordinary justice system administered by the qadi of a sharica court, two thus far largely ignored forms of conflict resolution will be considered: the extraordinary justice system of the Imperial Council (divan-i hüm ayun), and the amicable settlement of disputes (sulh).

Based primarily on Ottoman archival documents, namely the shari‘a court records of Galata and Hasköy, the complaints registers of the divan (şikayet defterleri), and on the fatwa collections of the sheikh ul-Islams of the period, this study explores with regard to non-Muslims a local manifestation of Islamic law rather than its textbook version provided in the doctrinal works of Islamic jurisprudence. While sharing the same legal status of dhimmi, the use of Islamic legal institutions varied greatly between Orthodox Christians, Armenians and Jews according to religion, gender or function within their community. Furthermore, this thesis shows that Istanbul's dhimmis exercised a remarkable degree of agency with regard to (1) the choice of court, (2) the decision on the form of conflict resolution, and (3) through their approach to the chosen legal process.

Yaycioglu, Ali. “The Provincial Challenge: Regionalism, Crisis, and Integration in the Late Ottoman Empire (1792-1812).” History and MES, 2008. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This dissertation focuses on a set of historical circumstances in the Ottoman Empire wherein a new type of provincial elite emerged in the Balkans and Anatolia, consolidated their power in their provincial units and challenged the constitutional basis of the Ottoman imperial system in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

The dissertation operates in two parts. The first part analyzes the institutional transformation of Ottoman provincial governance in the eighteenth century. Here, I discuss different mechanisms whereby some local individuals and families consolidated their power and gradually established their control over their provincial units. I particularly focus on the mechanisms of the delegation of authority from imperial authorities to local notables, the emergence of a managerial class as a result of the expansion of tax farming and the participation of communities in the election of municipal overseers.

In Part Two, I depict the circumstances in different Ottoman provinces that transformed these individuals and families from local to regional and from regional to imperial actors. I analyze the political processes whereby they established their regional autonomy, set up networks on an imperial scale and became major actors within the imperial establishment. Then, I focus on the political developments between 1806 and 1808, a period of political turmoil, factional struggle and revolution. This political crisis gave birth to an alliance between some provincial power-holders and a faction in the central government. This alliance produced a major document, the Deed of Agreement (Sened-i ittifak), signed by members of the central state and provincial leaders and redefining authority within the imperial state. In the last chapter, I scrutinize the constitutional orientation of this document.

As a conclusion, I argue that the provincial challenge experienced by the Ottoman Empire in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries created possibilities for the transformation of the empire into a more participatory and integrationist polity.

Farha, Mark. “Secularism Under Siege in Lebanon’s Second Republic.” History and MES, 2007. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Secularism, defined simply as the full neutrality of the state in its relations with citizens, has failed to be instituted comprehensively in Lebanon, the sole Arab state whose constitution as of 1926 does not establish an official religion of state or jurisdiction. A multi-communal country par excellence, the modern Republic of Lebanon has narrowly escaped the fate of partition India, Palestine or the former Jugoslavia suffered as a result of inter-communal contest.

This dissertation traces the evolution of secular and sectarian forms of government in Lebanon from pre-modern times until the present day. The genealogy of secularism is examined as a discursive ideology, as a byproduct of socio-economic development and as an embodiment of non-discriminatory political, legal, and institutional practice. The thesis proposes that Levantine history exhibited trends towards secular nationalism as early as the sixteenth century, while presenting multiple reasons why secularism was not ratified to a greater degree by the end of the twentieth.

Thematically, the thesis moves from a broad, sweeping overview of the historical contours secularism developed on a global and regional plane to individual case studies illustrating the predicament of secularism in contemporary Lebanon. The sequence of chapters relates secularism to (proto-) nationalism, (Bonapartist) republicanism, consociationalism, capitalism, civic school curricula in history and religion, a deconfessionalized body of personal status laws and Lebanon's contemporary religious and political discourse.

The thesis argues that the political transformations Lebanon passed through, and the difficulties secularism has encountered, were different in form, but not altogether in kind, from those attendant on other countries. Comparable multi-communal cases such as the Swiss analogue are adduced as edifying examples which may relativize the preconception of exceptionalism.

Gaining a deeper understanding of Lebanon's long engagement with confessional diversity may help account for the intensity of periodic communal conflict while explaining why secularism was recognized from early on as all the more vital and pragmatic necessity for the survival of a model of coexistence. The apparent paradox posed by Lebanon is that of a country which has served at once as the "cradle and grave" ("mahd wa lahd") of Arab secularism.

Muslu, Emire Cihan. “Ottoman-Mamluk Relations: Diplomacy and Perceptions.” History and MES, 2007. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This dissertation analyses the relationship between the Ottoman and the Mamlūk powers from the mid-fourteenth century to 1512, or from the inception of Ottoman-Mamluk diplomatic relations through the rule of Bāyezīd II. During this period, the relationship between these two powers underwent a transformation. In reconstructing this transformation, previous scholars have chosen to focus on moments of conflict and war. However, the two regions in which the Ottoman and Mamlūk powers ruled were connected by a wide range of political, diplomatic, social, cultural, and commercial networks that were established long before the emergence of the two powers. Such networks were a part of Ottoman-Mamlūk relations, as was the hostility, which became prevalent in the interactions between the Ottoman and the Mamlūk rulers after the 1450s. By studying these networks and by placing particular emphasis on diplomatic ones, this dissertation reevaluates the interactions between the two powers.

While narrating the relationship between the Ottomans and the Mamlūks, the dissertation also examines diplomatic incidents that took place between the two courts. Primary sources that report about the contacts between the two powers put a particular emphasis on those diplomatic incidents. This emphasis not only reveals the significant role of diplomacy in the communication between rulers, but also offers critical insight into the minds of sovereigns. Through meticulously crafted letters and carefully chosen envoys and gifts, rulers exchanged their political visions and mutual perceptions. By studying such diplomatic culture and the symbols embedded in it, this dissertation attempts to illuminate both the changing mutual perceptions of these two societies and the diplomatic conventions that were practiced in the larger Medieval Islamic world.

Terem, Etty. “The "New Mi’yar" of al-Mahdi al-Wazzani: Local Interpretation of Family Life in Late Nineteenth-Century Fez.” History and MES, 2007. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In 1910, al-Mahdi al-Wazzani, a distinguished Maliki mufti of Fez, published an extensive compilation of Maliki fatwas and named it the New Mi'yar (al-Mi'yar al-jadid, or the New Standard Measure). This dissertation investigates the New Mi'yar as a mufti's interpretation of his society. Al-Wazzani thought with his fatwas, and I unpack the way he discursively constructed his world and conveyed it in his fatwa compilation. The family serves as a unit of analysis and a conceptual framework, and the New Mi'yar provides the arena for exploring al-Wazzani's interpretation of the Fasi family. This study, informed by discourse analysis and cultural anthropology, contributes another strategy for reading fatwa literature by offering a methodology for the investigation of fatwas as cultural texts. My point of departure is that the juridical opinion, even in its most specialized version, is a cultural phenomenon that takes place within a certain human culture and projects its internal logic. With this in mind, I approach al-Wazzani's New Mi'yar as an embodiment of a specific society as seen through the eyes of one mufti.

Taken together, chapters one and two present a portrait of al-Mahdi al-Wazzani and his New Mi'yar. Chapter one is a detailed account of al-Wazzani's biography. In chapter two, I investigate the New Mi'yar —that is, the historical circumstances of its production, and its nature and characteristics. Chapters three and four focus on al-Wazzani's juristic interpretation of the family in late nineteenth-century Fez. These chapters are particularly concerned with the relationship between property and family. Chapter three is an exploration of the way al-Wazzani conceptualized the association between religious endowments and the family. Chapter four examines al-Wazzani's interpretation of women's relationships to their maintenance. These chapters offer a sense of al-Wazzani's understanding of the patriarchal-patrilineal familial order. I argue that al-Wazzani understood the Fasi family as a social unit anchored in patrilineal ideology of kinship and patriarchal ideals and norms as expressed in shari'a law. However, this family form as constructed by al-Wazzani was a highly complicated unit, marked by contradictions and conflicts. Above all it was a dynamic set of relationships between individuals and was the product of negotiation and construction.

Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood: A Social Movement Alternative to the National Democratic Party?Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2007.
Truth In Search of Power: Wahhabism and the Development of a New Islamic Orthodoxy.” Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2007.
The Centre for Arab Genomic Studies (CAGS): At the Crossroads between Science and Society.” Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2007.
The Internet in the Middle East: Lessons for Arab Children.” Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2007.
The Marginal Situation of Underprivileged Urban Youth in Contemporary Tehran.” Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2007.
Middle Eastern Authoritarianism: Political Islam and the West.” Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2007.